We all know an active child who seems to have an endless pit of energy. Though that child can sometimes feel draining to parent/coach/teach/mentor, it is important to know that they just need a safe outlet and the right tools to channel all that energy. These often strong-willed, outgoing children are more than capable of developing determination, bravery, leadership, and all the other amazing characteristics. A lot of times, children who are very active are labeled as easily distracted, impulsive, chatty, and even aggressive, when really, they are not given the tools, nor time to succeed.
If you are reading this blog post, we will assume that you are someone who is going to put the time and effort into helping our high-energy children succeed. Our hope is that from this blog you will gain a better understanding of active children and discover some tools and activities for both you and the active child that you are working with!
Understanding the Active Child:
Active children have lots of energy that keep both their brain and body constantly moving. If that energy is not channeled/expensed in a healthy way, it can look like bad behavior. In addition to the labels we mentioned above, pent-up energy can make active children appear to be poor listeners, rule-breakers, bullies, etc. It is important to know that active children showing these kinds of behaviors are not bad kids. Just like us as adults used tools to learn how to do our taxes, very active children need tools that help them learn to deal with all that extra energy.
Without the proper tools, high energy children may develop feelings of being overwhelmed, isolated, and could even develop symptoms of anxiety, among other things.
Parenting/Coaching Strategies for an Active Child
Set boundaries and rules:
Working with active children can feel very frustrating, specifically in scenarios where a certain level of focus is necessary. Trying to work on homework, chores, skill development, etc., can become very difficult if expectations are not clear. By implementing simple boundaries and rules for the child, you can ensure they know what is expected of them when interacting in their day-to-day life. These can be very simple rules. For example: “Johnny, I know it is hard to focus when you feel like you have a lot of energy, but you still need to make sure you are being respectful to your teacher during class by listening. If you feel like you are unable to do this, you should use one of your tools.”
It is important to make it clear to an active child what healthy vs. unhealthy ways there are to expend some energy. Be consistent with these expectations.
Be a positive role-model:
The cliché is true that children are sponges. They will do what they see and say what they hear. That is why it is so important to be a role model and set expectations for them that you yourself can meet.
Integrate physical activity into your lifestyle:
Not only will fostering a physical lifestyle help your child build healthy habits, but it will also become a tool that they can use consistently to expend some energy. Even doing just 15 minutes of physical activity before bed each night can help you and your child wind down. If you can make physical activity an integral part of your daily tasks, your child can carry that on with them through their life.
Get in the habit of getting outside:
This tool goes hand in hand with a physical lifestyle. Nature provides so many opportunities to get active and can be a great way to center/calm your active child’s energy.
Incorporate activities that engage the child’s interests:
Utilizing your child’s interests can be a great tool to keep their mind and energy busy for long periods of time.
Provide opportunities for creative expression:
Activities like drawing, painting, or building are also great for the mind and are another great tool for calming your active child’s energy.